BookBairn’s bedtime habit

If you have found your way to my blog you will no doubt follow plenty of fantastic book bloggers and enthusiasts. Today I would like to introduce one of my favourites and my first guest blogger, Kim aka Book Bairn, whose instagram is full of great recommends and LOADS of exciting book parcels! Here she shares what works for her little family at bedtime. Enjoy!

I think most parents will have heard the old adage that perfecting your bedtime routine will help your child sleep well. Well… in our experience your child probably needs to be sleeping well before the consistency of a bedtime routine really means a whole lot. But that is a much longer story!

BookBairn is now two and we have been doing the same bedtime routine for about a year now and most nights she falls asleep well. Having said all that we are expecting a new baby in April and I’m sure her routine will be disrupted and will change to accommodate her little brother too!

Daddy Arrives Home

IMG_6042BookBairn’s Daddy works an hour’s commute from home and usually walks in the door just in time to warm some milk and snuggle with his girl on the sofa in front of one her favourite Cbeebies shows. We usually watch TV or something on the iPad for fifteen minutes or so and then BookBairn tells her Daddy about that day’s highlights (with less and less input from me as she learns to say more herself!).

Toothbrushing and PJs

We used to do bath every night before bed but as BookBairn suffers from eczema we have cut her baths to an afternoon activity a couple of times a week. So instead, Daddy takes her to wash her face, brush her teeth, apply her coconut oil/eczema cream and get into her PJs.

Favourites Shelf

IMG_6041If you pop over to our blog or follow our social media you will see that BookBairn has two long shelves packed with her favourite and current reads. I try to change this regularly because whilst I know reading the same story over and over again is beneficial for her development it can get a bit tiresome for Daddy and I. We always let her choose from the shelf, and choose who is to read the book. More often than not, it’s ‘mummy’s knees’ but sometimes Daddy gets a turn and sometimes now she reads ‘on her own’. We usually read two stories and then have cuddles and night night kisses.

Cuddles and Song

Usually, BookBairn cuddles her favourite toy in her daddy’s arms and he sings her a lullaby of her choice. He then says something along the lines of “Mummy and Daddy love you and we are right next door if you need us. Sweet dreams” and then sings Edelweiss. Daddy then switches on the mobile above the cot which also plays Edelweiss.

Drifting off to sleep…

Usually there is then a little chat between BookBairn and her toy lion, Louis (who goes everywhere with her). And more recently we’ve heard her singing Twinkle Twinkle to him over the baby monitor.

 

And that’s it! We cross our fingers and even now (after she’s slept through the night nearly every night for over a year) I still pray that she will drift off and sleep all night.

To see our current favourite bedtime reads please check out this link: http://bookbairn.blogspot.co.uk/p/favourites-shelf.html

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Thanks Kim! It’s so lovely to hear about how other people enjoy this special time of the day (and then, all being well, breathe a huge sigh of relief and get ready to enjoy some grown up time!) If you have enjoyed this, make sure you pop over to her blog and have a read through some of her other posts, she’s a great blogger and you are sure to find loads of great picture book recommendations (there are some links below to help you find her).

About Kim: Kim lives in Scotland with her daughter, nicknamed BookBairn, husband and much-adored pet rabbit and is expecting baby number two in Spring. She has always enjoyed reading books, a passion inherited from her librarian-mother, and hopes to pass on this love of books to her little BookBairn. A teacher on career-break to spend more time with BookBairn, she is passionate about baby-led reading where little ones have free to reign to choose what they read and make mountains of book mess throughout the house.

http://bookbairn.blogspot.co.uk/

Social media links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BookBairn/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/BookBairn

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bookbairn/

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Spread a little kindness…

After a tumultuous week of world politics that has left a lot of the people I know feeling confused and a bit helpless, it seemed only natural to write a blog post about kindness. As always, I turn to my ever-expanding collection of picture books to find the comfort I am looking for and happily I find it everywhere. I think it is part of my job as a parent and a teacher to make sure that children are not frightened of diversity, that they looks out for people who are having a hard time and, most important of all,  that they spread kindness wherever they go. I know most people reading this will feel the same. So if you are looking for a starting point and some positive role models look no further. Here are my favourite books for modelling kindness.

Pass it on by Sophy Henn

fullsizerender-16This book starts with the notion that not every day will be perfect but with a positive attitude you can find a silver lining. It also gives children the really powerful message that that their behaviour can have a positive effect on others and help them to have a better day. It has a short repeated phrase ‘Pass it on’ giving children something to join in with even on the first time of reading. As with everything she does, Sophy Henn’s illustrations are vibrant and beautiful and by the end of reading it you will be smiling. I have read this with pre-schoolers and with much older children. My class are 7/8 years old and when we launched our acts of kindness this was the book we started with and they loved it. It really is a fantastic way to introduce to children (and adults) to the notion that they can make a positive difference to others.

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

fullsizerender-14Elephant is in a seriously bad mood until he discovers a surprise package at the front door. Inside is a hat. This instantly cheers him up and he decides to take them to his friend, Zebra’s house but when he gets there Zebra is also feeling grumpy. So Elephant shares his hat with his pal to cheer him up and they move on to visit the next friend (also grumpy) and the next and the next, each time cheering up their friends by sharing the many-layered hat with them. By the end of the book everyone is taking part in an informal hat parade, their grumps long forgotten because of the actions of their friends. This book beautifully illustrates that small act of kindness make a huge difference.

The Sniffles for Bear by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton

img_8920This book tells the story of Bear who is feeling unwell. Bear is a pretty dramatic chap and does not cope well with being ill so when his friend Mouse finds out he’s poorly, he decides to pop round and try to help. It is not easy to help Bear. He wants the situation to be treated seriously and does not feel like being cheered up. (It is worth mentioning that Bear thinks he may be dying and there is a conversation about leaving a will in case your child is sensitive to these issues. The tone is quite light hearted and it is clear that neither the mouse or the author thinks he will die and that bear is over-reacting but not every child will respond well those issues). Eventually all mouse’s good intentions wear Bear out and he falls asleep and wakes up feeling much better, but now it’s Mouse’s turn to feel ill. Luckily Bear knows just how to look after his friend and is happy to reciprocate. This is probably best suited to slightly older children as the storyline and language is quite mature in places but it is a really interesting look at the tricky side of friendship and illustrates the importance of looking after each other, even when it’s tough, perfectly.

Dogger by Shirley Hughes

fullsizerender-15I have seen lots of lists lately which give ideas of books which should be staple reads during childhood an in my opinion, this should be on every one. I can still remember the first time I read this story and the way I felt about the completely selfless act Bella performed so that her little brother could be reunited with his favourite toy. One of the things I like best about this story is that it showed that this wasn’t an easy decision- sometimes doing things for others is hard. However, if Bella was ever in any doubt that she had done the right thing her brother’s reaction more than makes up for it. I believe everyone’s book shelf should have a bit of Shirley Hughes’ magic on it and this is a great place to start.

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

fullsizerender-13The Little Gardener is a tiny figure who works all day but he is so small that he feels that, no matter how hard he works, he cannot make a difference to the place where he lives. Eventually, when he is exhausted and almost ready to give up, he makes a wish that he might have a little help. The Little Gardener falls asleep for a month, during which time some children see a flower in his neglected, overgrown garden and decide to start tidying things up. When he wakes there has been a dramatic change and the Little Gardener’s life is changed forever. This message in this book is so strong because children can see things from both sides- that it’s okay to be like the Little Gardener and ask for help and have hope, but also children have the power to help others every day through small acts of kindness even when they don’t know who they are helping. Emily Hughes is one of my favourite author-illustrators and I love everything she does. This was the first book of hers that I read and I still return to it regularly- sure sign of a winner.

 

I hope you have found something here that will help you to share the idea of kindness and positivity with your little readers. As always, I love to hear what you are reading at the moment so if you have any good suggestions, let me know below and happy reading…

Bookhabit bedtime

We all know that reading our children a bedtime story is seen as a good way of settling our children down for the night and a cozy way to build up a bond at the end of what is often a frantic day’s activities. But that’s not to say that there is only one right way to do it. Today I will share our routine with you and then over the coming weeks I will welcome guest posts by lots of other parents from around the world. Enjoy!

Little Miss Bookhabit’s bedtime stories

fullsizerender-12It’s worth saying that she is four years old and has no siblings. Although the timings have changed a little with age, the routine has been pretty much the same since she was in her cot.

Time to go upstairs…

Bathtime is usually with Daddy unless he is working late as it gives them a bit of time to play and chat together. Once she’s out of the bath I take over with the drying and dressing shenanigans (this part can take a while!) and try to get a comb through her hair…

Then…

Storytime. She chooses two books, one for Daddy to read and one for me to read. She decides who reads what and then we settle down. She sleeps in a bunk bed so we have storytime on a beanbag which rests up against a radiator. It’s not on full blast but it’s enough to get us nice and cosy. Usually she climbs onto the lap of the person reading so she gets a good look at the pictures. Daddy reads first and then me, unless it’s one of the days he is working late and then I get to do both. Very occasionally she will let us choose our own stories but it’s rare!

After that…

She chooses a song to sing. It’s usually a Nursery Rhyme/ Counting song type of thing and I do the singing unless she’s still feeling wide awake. Sometimes I get requests for a disney theme which can be interesting as I only really know the chorus of most of them and it turns into more of a humming/ lalala-ing type of thing. Recently she has started to go without the song because she’s been really tired but I’m hoping it will make a come back when she’s ready.

img_8858Finally…

She climbs into the bunk bed, we get plenty of cuddles and kisses and Molly the mouse ready with her (she’s still a label sucker and loves the toys from ikea with the super long labels) and then it’s lights out. Well, except for the grow clock, night light and the landing light outside her door so it’s darker rather than fully dark.

Usually that’s enough to get her off to sleep and then I can get on with the task of being an adult again!

Tips and Tricks?

I find having a dimmer switch very useful so we don’t have to have the light on at full strength. Other than that we just try to keep it pretty similar most nights. This is one of my favourite times of day and so if she’s being tired and a bit difficult I try to just slow down and remember that these story times won’t last forever.

Favourite Five Bedtime Stories

Quick Quack Quentin by Kes Gray and Jim Field

Anything with Angelina Ballerina in it (Katherine Holabird and Helen Craig)

Any of the Winnie the Witch stories (Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul)

The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright and Jim Field

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

And there you have it. That’s how we do bedtime stories in our house. I’d love to know how you do yours and of course, if you fancy collaborating and sharing your bedtime stories with us, send me an email or contact me on instagram. Happy reading!

 

 

 

January: the perfect time to buy books!

It’s a new year. Our houses are bursting at the seems with all sorts of gifts that we received over the festive period and we know we don’t need any more stuff. But what about all those people with birthdays in January? What about your friend who needs a pick me up but is trying to ‘eat clean’this month? What can we do about our resolution to cut down on screen time and spend more time interacting with our kids? The answer to all of these questions is of course- get your hands on the perfect book!

I am that Auntie that ‘always buys you a book for Christmas/ your birthday’. If you are thinking of buying some books this month, here is a list of some of the books I bought as Christmas presents for my friends and family. You can even see a couple of them being enjoyed. I am confident that every parent of a child receiving a book as a gift will be over the moon that it isn’t a bulky/ plastic/ novelty item and if you match the right title to the right person then you will be onto a winner.

‘Animals’ by Ingela Parrhenius

img_8465Who I bought it for: My one year old niece

Why I chose it: It’s a huge hardback (I have my hand on the photo to give you an idea of scale) so it has the feel of being a ‘special’ book. This also means she can crawl all over it and get up close with the animals- and she does! She is at that age where she is learning lots of animal sounds so it fits in well with her interests but goes beyond the everyday animals and has some more unusual ones in there too. Plus it will grow with her as she becomes interested in letters and the alphabet. And it is unbelievably beautiful and stylish so it looks great propped up in the corner of her bedroom. Perfect!

 

‘Under Water/ Under Earth’ by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

fullsizerender-10Who I bought it for: My three and a half year old nephew.

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Why I chose it: My nephew is the most curious boy and is full of questions about everything. He also loves anything to do with building and construction. This book is a beautiful hardback so like the one above it feels really special. It is also clever because you can open it from either side- there is no front or back. One half is Water and the other is Earth. I did say to my sister that I thought it might be a bit old for him but he has loved all the cross sections and finding out about what is doing on down there (she says she has learnt a fair bit reading it with him as well!) I love that this book will be as relevant for him in five or six years time as it is today, there are not many gifts you can say that about. (Side note- He will be getting this author/illustrator duo’s other beautiful best seller ‘Maps’ for his birthday. Ssssh don’t tell!)

‘Kitchen Disco’ by Clare Foges and Al Murphy

Who I bought it for? My daughter (age 4)

img_8462Why I bought it: I had heard about it from some literary consultants and thought I’d give it a try. I’m so glad I did! It’s a really silly story about fruit partying in the kitchen at night but the beauty is in the rhyme and repetition that make it so easy to join in with. It is a real ear worm and after reading it I will find myself walking around the house reciting it to myself! The upside of this is that she had it memorised after a few reads and now ‘reads’ it to us, her Grandparents, herself and her toys making her feel good about reading independently. I’m sure this is going to be very popular so watch out for it this year, I think it’s going to be everywhere (unless you already have it and in that case I bet you love it as much as I do!)

‘The Building Boy’ by David Litchfield

img_8461Who I bought it for: originally my nephew but he is going through a very sensitive phase so I gave it to my daughter instead

Why I bought it: I’m a huge David Litchfield fan, ever since reading ‘The Bear and the Piano’. I absolutely love his illustrations. They are just phenomenal and make me want to dive into the page. Pair this with heart warming, emotional stories and you are onto a winner. However, I bought this without reading it first and as beautiful and senstive as it is, it does deal with the loss of a grandparent and my lovely senstive nephew would not enjoy that right now. However, my daughter, who is going through the phase where she is asking all sorts of questions about death, has enjoyed it and it has lead to some interesting discussions. I would not hestitate to recommend it but just makes sure it suits the person you are buying for.

So there you go. A few pieces of inspiration if you are struggling for a treat. And remember, children’s books can sometimes be the perfect present for big kids too so don’t rule them out for the adults in your life, especially if there is a sentiment you are trying to express. Sometimes kids books just do it best (Remember that scene in Friends where Chandler buys The Velveteen Rabbit for Joey’s girlfriend?)

Now I will leave you with the proof, if proof were needed, that these books are well loved… My sister sent me a couple of message of them enjoying there books. One said ‘This is not a set up!!! He is absolutely loving your book today. Never heard him say wow so much. Best Auntie EVER xx’ Well, I’ll take that…

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Learning about friendships

It is my unwavering belief that picture books help children to make sense of the world around them. If they are finding something difficult there is almost certainly a book that will help them out with it. Friendships can be one of the most difficult things for our little ones to navigate through. One day someone is your best friend, the next they don’t want to know you, the day after that they want to be your friend and it’s your turn to play it cool. Its all so tricky. There are gazillions of books about friendships and it’s a theme I plan to revisit many, many times but for today I thought I would champion some of the most interesting books I have recently discovered that show the reality of friendships and could help children to view friendship in a new way.

Continue reading “Learning about friendships”

Weekly pick: The Little Gardener

I really love instagram but there are times when I feel like I’m not really doing the books justice when I feature them on there, so I have decided that I’m going to try something new. Enter the new hashtag #bookhabitweeklypick.

It was tough picking which book woud go first but after a weekend where I finally felt like we were beginning to see some signs of spring I chose Emily Hughes’ beautiful ‘The Little Gardner’.

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When I bought this book it was just a chance encounter. I didn’t flick through the pages, I hadn’t heard of it before or read anything by the author I just saw the cover and thought it looked interesting. I’m so glad I did. It has become a well-loved book in our house for both me and the little Magpie (my daughter, currently 3 and a half).

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The text is simple, repetitive and gentle. It guides you through the story of a tiny gardner (perhaps some kind of fairy folk, although he doesn’t seem to possess any magical powers) and his friendly worm. Between them they try everything to keep the garden beautiful but it is just too much for them. After realising that the job is too big, the gardner wishes for help and then falls into a deep slumber for a month. When he awakes he finds that the universe has granted his wish (nearby children have cleared and planted while he slept). Where once it was overgrown and dangerous there are now flowering plants and new wildlife.

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Part fairy tale, part fable, this story puts a great emphasis on the qualities of trying hard, perseverance, asking for help and most of all having hope. The text is used sparingly and all the emotions and extra details come from the intricately beautiful illustrations. Every time we look at them we find another hidden detail that we haven’t spotted before and this helps to keep the book exciting for little ones. The colour palette is more muted than many children’s books but it really adds to the atmosphere of the story and makes the garden transformation more visual and exciting at the end.

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Emily Hughes is a really special talent and has a style which is instantly recognisable. If you haven’t given her books a try yet I would urge you to track them down and give them a whirl. They are truly magical and timeless and would easily earn their place on the most beautiful bookshelf.

If you have already enjoyed ‘The Little Gardner’ or would like to look out for more of her work, Emily Hughes has also published ‘Wild’ and has recently illustrated ‘A Brave Bear’ written by Sean Taylor.

Reading: a gift for life

A lot of the time, when people read with their children they do it to help them with their literacy skills and there is no doubt that works but to me reading is so much more than that. Reading benefits every part of who they are. Social skills, problem solving, patience, motivation, empathy, understanding of relationships can all be developed by simply picking up a book and diving in. And if you manage to help your child develop a love of reading then it is something that will be with them for their entire life, and that’s not something you can say about a lot of things. Being a child can be hard work but when they immerse themselves in a book they can really switch off. Not just the older children either. If my three year old is having a bad day a book can really break into her mood and it can be like pressing the reset button. This does not always work but is well worth a try! Below are just a few of my thoughts on what books can do for us and our children and not one of them is anything to with literacy. (Please remember that all of these also apply to adults reading books as well!)

Books can cleverly take something scary and make it funny.

Books can make you feel as though you are not alone.

Books can make you laugh when you want to cry.

Books can transport you to a million places when you can’t leave the house.

Books can make you see things from a different point of view.

Books can help you find an answer to a question noone else can answer.

Books can make you believe in magic.

Books can make you think for yourself.

Books can give you goals and dreams.

Books can turn an ordinary day into a magnificent adventure.

Books can be something different each time you read them.

 

 

Reading on repeat

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Lately my daughter came home from nursery with her ‘Next Steps in Learning’ one of them mentioned retelling familiar stories. This is something she loves to do and that’s probably because she has always been read to. But did you know that it is the rereading of the same books over and over again which helps young minds to absorb the structure of stories so that it becomes part of their everyday vocabulary, then their play and eventually one day their writing? Which means it doesn’t matter too much if you have access to hundreds of books or a carefully selected few, if you read them together regularly this will have a positive affect on your child’s use of language. Great news, hey?

Continue reading “Reading on repeat”

Welcome!

Hello, I’m Claire. You may have seen me sharing my excitement about children’s books over on Instagram during the last six months. If so, thanks for following along and welcome to the new venture- a blog! I have procrastinated long and hard about this but with a few gentle nudges in the right direction here I am and I’m very excited to enter this brave new world.

I haven’t shared a lot about me over on instagram so here’s a little more about how I came to have a book obsession. Continue reading “Welcome!”